Case Studies

Fact File CompanyCuisines SchmidtBusinessKitchen & bathroom manufacturer (France)Infrastructure simplification projectTo create a cost-effective...

Fact File
Company Cuisines Schmidt
Business Kitchen & bathroom manufacturer (France)
Infrastructure simplification project To create a cost-effective, highly scalable and resilient storage environment to manage growing data volumes securely; align data storage costs with business needs
Solution IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller with two IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers (ESS 800)
Business benefits A significant increase in performance of storage systems; virtualisation of storage has brought enhanced flexibility and scalability; rapid implementation and training cycle; improved security for vital enterprise data

Founded in 1947, Cuisines Schmidt is the French leader in the manufacture of fitted kitchens and bathrooms, and has a strong focus on the European market. The company has three factories -- two in the Alsace region of France, and one in Germany -- and sells its products through more than 450 retail partners throughout Europe.

French kitchen manufacturer Cuisines Schmidt needed a scalable and resilient storage solution that could handle large data volumes securely.

Cuisines Schmidt’s strategic aim is to build its market share across Europe, and this will entail continual growth in data volumes. So the company needed to implement a scalable, cost-effective storage solution to ensure that its IT systems could continue to serve the business effectively. The existing Storage Area Network (SAN) -- supplied by a leading storage vendor -- was at full capacity, did not allow systems to be restored quickly enough, and was not effectively disaster-proofed.

Vincent Lettler, CIO of Cuisines Schmidt, comments: 'Compatibility problems meant that our previous SAN could not be upgraded, so we compared solutions from the existing vendor and from IBM. Our aims were to secure data, reduce the administrative complexity, improve performance, reduce time-to-restore and create a solution with a long lifespan. We also wanted to be able to add new storage capacity quickly and cost-effectively, to ensure that we could respond to new business requirements'.

Virtualisation for variable costs

Following a detailed proof of concept and a visit to a successful customer site in the UK, the company selected the proposed solution from IBM: a new SAN built around IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and two IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers (ESS 800). Cuisines Schmidt’s 20 Unix and Intel-based servers and its main production server, an IBM eServer iSeries Model 820, are connected to the SAN using fibre links.

The new SAN was built around IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and two IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers (ESS 800).

Says Lettler: 'The key advantage of the IBM solution was that it offered virtualised storage. SVC gives us a single view of all our storage, and enables us to quickly add new capacity of practically any kind. This means that we can grow our capacity at variable cost -- helping us to align IT expenditure with business needs'.

'For example,' he continues, 'we can add low-cost storage for non-essential data and high-performance storage for production data, and even add in systems from other vendors. SVC puts us in total control of our storage, enabling us to be highly responsive'.

Faster, easier, more secure

The IBM solution was implemented and all data migrated within just 18 days; the benefits were equally swift to arrive. 'With the new IBM solution, our storage performance immediately increased by a factor of three,' says Lettler, 'and the migration of data was a total success. SVC is a new technology, and the excellent transfer of skills from IBM and the ease-of-use of the software meant that our administrators could manage the system effectively within just half a day.'

Time-to-restore has improved to one hour, meeting Cuisines Schmidt’s target, and data is now better protected against disaster, being duplicated across both ESS servers using RAID 5 technology. Lettler comments: 'With the previous solution, we were not able to restart quickly enough, and we had a single point of failure, which was very risky. Now, we can rapidly restore our production systems and we will be able to move our main storage servers to different locations to further improve resilience.'

Future flexibility

Cuisines Schmidt is introducing a new production control system which will allow it to see where individual items are in the production cycle, to view the stages they have passed through, and to work out how to make the cycle more efficient. One possibility for the future is to move from two working shifts of eight hours to three eight-hour shifts, in order to increase output. Cuisines Schmidt’s plan to implement IBM FlashCopy in 2005 will help to reduce backup time windows, which will make it easier to run factory control systems around the clock.

Lettler concludes: 'The IBM solution has set us up perfectly for the future, providing a highly scalable virtualised storage environment that can grow with our requirements. SVC gives us full flexibility, making it faster and easier to manage data and add new storage volumes, and we are confident that the solution can help us make major cost savings in the coming years. The support from IBM was another factor in our choice of vendor; there is a large local installed base of ESS systems, so we know that we can call on highly-experienced technicians to resolve any issues we may have.'

Fact File
Company Netstore
Business IT outsourcing (UK)
Infrastructure simplification project To tackle rising systems management and maintenance costs, relieve pressure on floor space in the data centres, and use existing computing resources more efficiently
Solution Worked with ICM to implement VMware ESX virtualisation technology running on IBM eServer xSeries 440 and 445 servers, with IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server
Business benefits Reduced management and maintenance costs; data centre floor space requirements no longer rise with each new customer; efficient allocation of computing resources to applications

Founded in 1996 and now listed on the London Stock Exchange, Netstore is the only company that provides progressive outsourcing to the mid market. Netstore successfully deliverers IT managed services to local authorities, as well as finance, banking and insurance organisations. Netstore's unique approach provides the opportunity to assess the viability of outsourcing through a carefully planned step-by-step strategy. The company is headquartered in Bracknell, has operations in London, Gateshead and Cambridge, and is one of only 67 UK organisations to have achieved BS7799 certification, the British Standard for Information Security Management.

Bracknell-based Netstore needed to use its existing servers more efficiently and save floor space in its data centres.

Netstore provides all the necessary IT infrastructure for each new customer (including full backup, archive and disaster recovery), insulating the client from the technology. The challenge for Netstore was to find a way to grow its business without a corresponding increase in management and technology costs. With floor space at a premium in Netstore’s secured data centres, adding new physical servers for each application was clearly not a sustainable strategy.

Colin Henderson, Netstore's VP Operations, explains: 'Previously, each physical server was sized to manage the relevant application workload for each customer. This meant that we had multiple systems, each running at say 40 percent capacity, which was very wasteful, and becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Every new system required power, cooling, cabling and management, and took up more floor space in the data centre. To expand the business, we needed to find a more efficient way to utilise capacity and cut our costs, while continuing to provide a very robust service to customers.'

Switching to a virtual world

Netstore chose to implement VMware virtualisation technology on a total of ten IBM eServer xSeries 440 and 445 servers, to create multiple virtual application servers on single physical systems. The enterprise-class VMware ESX solution can support up to 64 separate servers on each xSeries, allocating precisely the required processing capacity and memory to each virtual server according to the workload.

Nestore's solution involved running VMware server virtualisation
software on 10 xSeries 440 and 445 servers.

With the xSeries and VMware solution, Netstore is now able to grow its business both rapidly and cost-effectively. New virtual servers can be created on existing server capacity, which itself can be utilised more efficiently, while power, cooling, cabling and rack space requirements no longer increase with each new contract.

Henderson comments: 'We selected the xSeries infrastructure because of IBM’s superior systems management, which reduces our costs. IBM is very proactive, detecting any anomalous behaviour and despatching an engineer pre-emptively. IBM has provided full support for VMware, and offered Netstore a forward-thinking, strategic solution on xSeries that I doubt we could have found elsewhere.'

The xSeries servers provide application support and Web access portals to large systems running on IBM NUMA-Q database servers, with data stored on two IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers. Netstore is able to support thousands of users -- one customer has 6,500 users accessing more than 175TB of application data.

'The VMware and xSeries solution gives Netstore a significant cost saving when compared with a growing estate of physical machines, and allows us to be more price-competitive in our offering to customers', says Henderson.

Real results

Netstore worked with IBM Business Partner ICM, which supplied the xSeries servers, and provided configuration and integration with existing systems. Working closely with IBM and Netstore, ICM has helped create a solution where it is easy to add new servers through the VMware tool, as well as allocate resources efficiently.

'ICM delivered the solution exactly as specified and precisely on time, as well as completing the integration work. The company has an excellent reputation for fulfilment, delivery and installation, and their close working relationship with IBM proved to be a great benefit for Netstore', remarks Henderson.

'We can now utilise our processing resources far more efficiently, with virtual servers sized precisely for the tasks at hand. With ICM, VMware and IBM xSeries, we can offer our customers the service, reliability and performance they need, at an excellent price point.'

Fact File
Company SACMI
Business Industrial products (Italy)
Infrastructure simplification project To provide flexible storage capacity for a growing business, at cost-effective rates, and simplify the management of storage infrastructure for long-term cost savings
Solution Implemented IBM TotalStorage disk and tape storage devices with IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and IBM eServer xSeries servers running IBM Tivoli Storage Manager
Business benefits Virtualised storage infrastructure enables capacity to be allocated as needed to business systems to help improve service and disk utilisation, simplify management and lower costs

SACMI is the world leader in the processes and machinery required for ceramics manufacture, and for beverage, packaging and food processing equipment. The group is headquartered in Imola, Italy, and employs over 3,000 people, generating group sales of around €900 million. SACMI has subsidiaries and sales operations worldwide, from Brazil to China.

Managing growing demands for highly-available, reliable data storage was becoming difficult, and the company needed to find a way to provide sufficient capacity at cost-effective rates. Disks attached to individual servers did not provide sufficient flexibility to meet changing needs, and maintaining existing storage was proving expensive.

Italian industrial products manufacturer SACMI replaced disks attached to individual servers with a virtualised SAN from IBM TotalStorage.

A senior spokesperson for SACMI comments: 'SACMI wanted to have disk space available on demand in the fastest way possible. We evaluated several vendors, and chose a virtualised SAN from IBM TotalStorage as the ideal solution to meet our needs.'

Infrastructure simplification with IBM TotalStorage

SACMI worked with IBM Value Added Distributor Computer Gross to implement IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, IBM TotalStorage FAStT700 Storage Server (now called the DS4400) and IBM TotalStorage UltraScalable 3584 Tape Library, with IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC). IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, running on IBM eServer xSeries model 440 and 445 servers, is used to control and automate backup and recovery.

SAN Volume Controller is designed to increase the flexibility of any storage infrastructure by enabling changes to the physical storage with minimal or no disruption to applications. Now with expanded support for many non-IBM storage systems, SAN Volume Controller can enable a tiered storage environment, to allow a better match between the cost of storage and the value of data. SVC can allow businesses to manage multiple storage systems more easily, for enhanced productivity and increased capacity utilisation.

IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) allows changes to physical storage to be made with minimal disruption to applications.

By using SVC to virtualise its storage infrastructure, SACMI can now allocate disk capacity to applications as required. If users request additional storage capacity, the IT department is able to allocate space via SVC in minutes, for faster service and improved disk utilisation.

SACMI runs SAP as its enterprise-wide ERP system, using IBM eServer BladeCenter with HS20 blades as application servers, which also access the SAN.

'SAN Volume Controller is the ideal interface between the storage servers and the host applications,' says SACMI's spokesperson. 'With IBM, SACMI has developed a very strong, highly-available storage infrastructure. SVC has helped us to reduce our costs of management, and allows us to control a heterogeneous storage infrastructure easily. The IBM solution helps us to react more quickly to business needs, moving data to the most appropriate devices simply and rapidly.'

Integrated information management

SACMI’s goal was to implement an architecture that would support rapid changes in business requirements as well as accommodate the fast rise in demand for storage. With operations around the world, continuous availability was also important; SVC allows the creation of highly resilient storage configurations to provide 24/7 performance.

'We estimate that by virtualising our storage management with SVC,' says SACMI's spokesperson. 'SACMI will save about one-half of a man-year on management alone. We can use IBM FlashCopy to move data very rapidly with no business interruption, and exploit our existing storage capacity more efficiently.'

Data for the future
SACMI plans to attach more storage subsystems to the SVC, allowing greater flexibility both for data storage and for applications. The existing SAP applications will be moved to the SVC, removing potential capacity limitations as SACMI’s SAP workload grows. The company is very satisfied with the IBM TotalStorage solution and with the virtualisation possibilities of SVC. 'The essential aspect is that the migration to the SVC has been completely transparent and trouble-free', says the spokesperson. 'With SVC, SACMI has achieved outstanding improvements in terms of scalability and capacity, and a significant reduction in management costs.'